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Narrow is the Way-A Modern Parable

by Susan LeDoux  
6/25/2014 / Short Stories


The raven glided on the thermal, gracefully veering left then right. Below in the valley sat a red three story building - a long rectangle with large ells jutting here and there from its four sides. The structure stretched for a full mile. A plume of smoke wafted from one end of the building. The bird zoomed down for a closer look.

Inside, thousands of men, women and children of all ages and nationalities slept, dined, played, loved and fought.

"Look Uncle Dan, I found a map," the eight year old boy shouted, waving a parchment with lines and notations. Dan was unimpressed and in a hurry to meet his friends for a game of poker.

"That's not a real map, Roger. It's just a drawing. Why don't you go off and color it for me."

"No. No it's a real map. See, it shows the way to a door. I found lots of maps just exactly like this. There's a door, Uncle Dan. We can go outside."

"Why would I want to go outside?" He patted Roger on the head and walked away to his game.

As if in answer to his uncle's question, a young man shouted as he careened around the corner, "The building's on fire!"

People looked at him as if he were crazy. There was no smoke, no smell. What an irresponsible thing to do to yell fire in a crowded building. Voices rose in anger and anxiety.

"Be quiet! Do you want people to panic?"

"Maybe there is a fire and we need to find exits."

"Where are they?" someone else asked.

"I have no idea. Never wanted to leave," another responded.

The raven, having returned to his perch atop a fir tree, noticed that the plume of smoke had grown.

And the fire grew.

Roger followed the route drawn on the map.

"Here it is!" the boy jumped up and down with excitement. "I followed the map and I found the door. We can go out!"

He would not stop shouting and soon more and more people gathered around him. Indeed, there was a door nestled in a corner. It was small and had no doorknob. Several burly men crashed their weight against it but it would not budge.

"Stand aside," said an old man.

People immediately obeyed his senatorial command. The man leaned on his cane and inched his way to stand before the door. He waited. The door opened and he walked through to the outside. People looked at each other. After a moment, another man stood before the door and waited. It opened and he walked out. Clearly, the door only opened itself for each person.

And the fire grew.

The people who saw the little door opening and closing fanned out to tell others about the way to safety and to follow them. They even began to tug at people who did not believe them, but were rebuffed as the ones they accosted clung to pillars and posts or
struck out at the "door fanatics."

Others looked askance at the little door.

"There must be wider doors than just this little one," a man mused aloud.

"Of course," another agreed. "What kind of architect would draft such a huge building with only one door? "

"It wouldn't be up to code with just one exit," added a woman who sounded as if she were an authority on the matter. "These people yelling that there's only one way out are simplistic fools. They don't know a thing about draftsmanship or building codes."

"It's just that we never wanted to go out before. It's too nice in here," another added, nodding his head in agreement with the woman.

A group set off to find those other, better exits.

And the fire grew.

"Will you stop shouting?" The woman sounded furious as she brought her face close to another who was screaming that the exit was through the little door. "I can't hear myself think with all your blathering. Maybe YOU believe this is the only way out, but
not everyone believes there's really a fire or that there aren't other exits. You are the most irritating person I ever met. You should be made to shut up!"

And the fire grew.

Over in the corner, hundreds of people walked up to the little door and stood for a moment. Quietly, without rushing or fear, one after the other approached the door and the door opened.

The raven was dismayed to see a steady line of people leaving the building as the fire eventually consumed it.

Copyright 2015 - from my blog
Susan LeDoux is a freelance Christian writer and reporter. She writes on assignment and for a Christian newspaper covering Western, Central, and Upstate NY. Her blog, "Road to Emmaus," is found at her website, "Ecclesia!" "at http://www.susanledoux.net

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